Why Your Water Temperature Matters When Mixing With Whiskey

There is technically no "wrong" way to enjoy a glass of whiskey, according to Johnnie Walker, but there are a few elements to consider when crafting your drinking experience. While neat or on the rocks are both common ways to consume the spirit, some people look to dilute their glass of whiskey much like they would ouzo or raki before drinking. 

Why do people want to dilute their drink? Well, Cook's Illustrated claims that after conducting some research, the outlet discovered that simply adding water to your whiskey dilutes the alcohol (thus reducing the overwhelming burning sensation), and allows the natural flavors of the booze to develop on the palate. 

As for how much water you should be adding to your glass, The Barrel Mill says that it's all about personal preference. You should begin by adding water in small amounts to your glass, and taste-testing along the way until you feel as though you've hit your sweet spot. But how much water you use is just as important as the temperature of the water you pour into your whiskey. 

Whiskey tastes best at around room temperature

Both hot and cold temperatures have a large effect on the taste of food and drink, according to Food & Wine. Just imagine a lukewarm cup of coffee and you will agree. So, of course, the temperature has the same effect on whiskey. Assistant Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall, tells us that when liquid is cold, we taste fewer flavors than when it is warm. 

Therefore, the temperature will greatly affect how much or how little nuance you get in your whiskey. Rory Glasgow, a North American single malt Scotch whisky Ambassador, insisted that our taste buds pick up flavors best between the temperatures of 59 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Whiskey Wash affirms this assessment, recommending that if you want to enjoy the deep, complex flavor profile of whiskey, you must drink your whiskey at room temperature or a little warmer (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit). If your drink is particularly cold for one reason or another, add some warm water and taste the flavors as they expand, you'll be able to pick up more of the drink's other characteristics. But if you're indulging in whiskey on a particularly sweltering day and are worried about your drink getting too warm, a splash of cold water should bring it to the ideal temperature.